The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is open to reviewing its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Andhra Pradesh, soon after the election results are declared on June 4. In the eventuality of INDIA Bloc coming into striking distance of power, TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu can snap his alliance with the BJP, in order to extend support to the INDIA Bloc, in its bid to form the next Government at the Centre.

The driving urgency for TDP Supremo Chandrababu Naidu for keeping his post-poll options open is for getting Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh, which has been promised in the Congress Election Manifesto, 2024.

Andhra Pradesh survival is at stake, without the Special Category Status, as the State has lost out heavily, following Bifurcation, when Telangana was carved out in 2014. The Special Category Status and a Special Package was announced by the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre, only to bail out Andhra Pradesh. Stubborn refusal of the BJP to grant Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh leaves Chandrababu Naidu with no other alternative, but to look beyond the Alliance with the BJP. The electoral tie-up was primarily for the limited purpose of handing out a decisive defeat to the YSRCP of Jagan Mohan Reddy, with the pooling of votes.

Naidu has a history of hopping from one alliance to another. In 1996-98, he was the United Front Convener. In 1998, he jumped on to the NDA bandwagon, after bargaining for the post of Lok Sabha Speaker for his party. After losing power in 2004, he drifted away from the BJP. But ahead of the General Election in 2014, Naidu returned to the BJP-fold under the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in 2013.

Quitting the NDA ahead of the Telangana State Assembly elections in 2018, on the ground that the BJP refused Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, Naidu joined hands with the Congress, but exited, soon after the electoral defeat of the alliance.

For the General Election in 2024, the TDP-BJP Alliance was stitched up by the Saffron Party, with its sights set on its 400-Paar goal. For the TDP, it suited because it was keen on avoiding any division of Anti-YSRCP vote in the State, aiming to dislodge the YSRCP Government of Jagan Mohan Reddy in the simultaneous State Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha elections.

In fact, the TDP-BJP alliance in Andhra Pradesh was clinched at a time when the other former Allies of BJP were wary of coming back to the fold of the Saffron Party. The Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha spurned the BJP overtures in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. The AIADMK had already snapped its ties with the BJP in Tamil Nadu. It was against this political backdrop that the TDP-BJP alliance was worked out.

Now, with the simultaneous State Assembly and Lok Sabha elections firmly behind him, Naidu is not keen on continuing with the alliance with the BJP.

Reasons are not far to seek. During the past 10 years he has been in power at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has persistently ruled out granting Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh, which is of paramount importance for the larger development in the State. For Naidu's own political survival, Special Category Status is his primary agenda.

This was promised by the then ruling Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre in 2014, when Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh. Now, it has been included in the Congress Election Manifesto, 2024.

The Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 had angered the people of the State, as they lost Hyderabad to the newly-carved Telangana State. As a result, the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh lost out on the revenue of about Rs 40,000 crore annually from Hyderabad, which has gone to Telangana. The Hyderabad City which attracted a large number of industries after the formation of Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956, was also lost out to Telangana.

To compensate for revenue losses and the loss of industrial base, the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh promised Special Category Status for Andhra Pradesh for a period of five years, aimed at putting the State finances on a firmer footing.

The Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, already stipulates that the Central Government shall take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives, in order to promote industrialization and economic growth in the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh.

A Special Package modeled on Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput, popularly known as KBK Package in Odisha and Bundelkhand Package in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, was promised to North Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema districts in Andhra Pradesh.

Apart from this, Railway Zone in Visakhapatnam, Steel Plant in Kadapa, National Project Status to Polavaram Irrigation Project, building of New Capital City for Andhra Pradesh, Dugarajapatnam Port and three International Airports in Tirupati, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada were promised but the Modi Government did not implement even a single assurance of the then Central Government during the past 10 years.

The Congress has consistently stood by its commitment. Now, it has also included it in the Congress Election Manifesto, 2024. For Andhra Pradesh, Special Category Status with financial incentives can help attract investments to the State.

The TDP sights are set firmly on June 4, when the election results will be declared. Naidu is eagerly looking forward to grabbing any opportunity to get Special Category Status, even if it entails snapping of ties with the BJP and hitching on to the INDIA Bloc, if it emerges as a credible challenger to the Saffron Party.